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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #314341

Title: Is there a role for symbiotic bacteria in plant virus transmission?

item PINHEIRO, PATRICIA - Cornell University
item KLIOT, ADI - Volcani Center (ARO)
item GHANIM, MURAD - Volcani Center (ARO)
item Heck, Michelle

Submitted to: Current Opinion in Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/14/2015
Publication Date: 1/22/2015
Citation: Pinheiro, P., Kliot, A., Ghanim, M., Cilia, M. 2015. Is there a role for symbiotic bacteria in plant virus transmission? Current Opinion in Insect Science. 8:69-78.

Interpretive Summary: Plant viruses that are transmitted by insects can be divided into two broad categories based on the length of time they remain associated with the insect vector. Non-persistent viruses are only transiently associated with the insect vector and usually adhere to the insect’s mouthparts. In contract, persistent viruses remain with the vector for its entire life. Persistent viruses circulate throughout the insect body prior to transmission to a new host. Besides the insect, virus, and plant, there is another player involved. Insects harbor beneficial bacteria, called bacterial symbionts, that live within their bodies. These symbionts can be primary or secondary depending on whether they are critical to the insect’s survival or play another helpful role. An area of intense debate is whether insect bacterial symbionts are involved in the transmission of persistent plant viruses. In this article, we critically review the literature in this field and propose a new model with clear predictions to test whether a symbiont is involved in plant virus transmission and to quantify its contribution relative to the insect vector.

Technical Abstract: During the process of circulative plant virus transmission by insect vectors, viruses interact with different insect vector tissues prior to transmission to a new host plant. An area of intense debate in the field is whether bacterial symbionts of insect vectors are involved in the virus transmission process. We critically review the literature in this area and present a simple model that can be used to quantitatively settle the debate. The simple model determines whether the symbiont is involved in virus transmission and determines what fraction of the pathogen transmission phenotype is contributed by the symbiont. The model is general and can be applied to any vector-pathogen-symbiont interactions.